IF YOU want to look good and help save the planet at the same time, there’s a shop in Stroud that’s well worth a visit.

Based in John Street, Madia and Matilda is an eco-fashion business, specialising in clothes made from upcycled and sustainable fabrics.

Founder of the business, Shalize Nicholas, has always challenged the amount of waste in the fashion industry.

She launched Madia and Matilda back in 2013, as an outlet for the one-off garments she was making from vintage fabrics.

A former pupil at Archway, then Cirencester College, Shalize studied fashion at Manchester Metropolitan University

“I’ve always hated waste,” she said.

“When I was at university, so many scraps and leftover pieces of material were thrown away.

“I would look at them and think about how I could use them in another garment.

“Watching how wasteful the industry is, it just didn’t sit right with me,” she said.

Shalize decided to combine her love of designing clothes and her flair for repurposing fabrics together in one business.

“I started the business at home on the dining room table,” she said.

“I then moved into a studio in Rooksmoor, before trialling pop up shops in different areas.

“Finally, I settled on the Stroud base in John Street, where we have now been for four years this May.”

As demand for Shalize’s one-off creations grew, customers expressed their disappointment when the unique items quickly disappeared from the shelves.

She wanted to find a way to reproduce some of her designs, without resorting to buying in mass produced fabrics from unsustainable sources.

The solution she found was to also make garments from end of line fabrics (textiles with minor defects, which would often otherwise be destroyed), which came from accredited, sustainable factories.

In this way, she was able to make multiple copies, in small runs of up to 20, of her most popular designs.

As a further thrifty measure, Shalize and her the team make each design as it’s ordered, turning orders around within seven days, so that materials aren’t wasted in unused stock.

Madia and Matilda has now become an established supplier of sustainable fashion, known for breathing new life into fabrics which would otherwise have ended up in landfill.

As well as its John Street shop, the business has a rapidly expanding online presence, with the brand proving especially popular in France, Germany, Australia and the US.

The Madia and Matilda range is also now stocked in several shops, including in Chelsea, Ireland and France.

Once a niche market, Shalize says she has noticed a recent sea change in attitudes towards sustainable fashion.

“In the last six months I have seen an increase in interest in Madia and Matilda.

“And with the Environmental Audit Committee calling for fast fashion brands to make changes, sustainable fashion is getting a lot of attention at the moment in the press,” she said.

The term ‘fast fashion’ refers to the throwaway culture in the clothing business, with items so cheap, people are buying them as single-use items.

MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) say that ‘fast fashion’ is a major contributor to greenhouse gases, water pollution, air pollution and over-use of water.

And last month, they proposed a 1p charge per item of clothing in the UK to help fund better waste clothing collection and recycling systems across the UK.

After learning her craft at university and beyond, Shalize is now sharing her skills with others.

Internships in areas including textiles, fashion photography, marketing, e-commerce are available on site at Madia and Matilda’s John Street base.

And Shalize is also running textile themed courses in the community.

She has used fashion as a way of helping others too.

Last year, she organised a hurricane disaster relief fashion show at Stroud’s Lansdown Hall, in aid of struggling families in Dominica.

The event raised over £1,000.

Madia and Matilda is at 6 John Street in Stroud. The shop is open Tuesday to Saturday, with a special a market stall outside the shop every Saturday.